How to Find the Right Software for Your Small Business

November 3, 2017

7:15 am

Not every new tech find, app or system is needed to transform the operation of small businesses. While initial software costs might not always be significant, even free, if there is little value to your business, it’s a waste of time and resources.

Here’s a collection of software that could suit small businesses, why they work in certain industries, some more than others, and how to choose which ones to invest in.

Time Tracking Increases Productivity and Profits

Many project management systems allow you to time track on set tasks or for each team member. Some systems, like Hubstaff, are designed with time tracking included, in order to accurately count how long each project takes to be completed. Some can do more, combining time records with locations, like fleet tracking software.

While manual time management and records can work, to get the most from your staff and therefore your business, you should look into time tracking software. This is especially useful for small business and boutique agencies where it’s easy to spend too much time on one client at the cost of another.

Time tracking systems benefit almost every small business as it pits staff against the clock. For businesses working on multiple projects, it encourages staff to use their time efficiently and work productively, as well as paying accurately. If you have these systems in place it will also make adding freelancers to your roster for certain projects easy to track in terms of work completed.

Accounting Software Helps Control Finances

Staying on top of your accounts is key, but finding a system that works for your small business and that can sustain your growth is hard. As many small businesses can’t afford an in-house accounting team, getting software is the only logical solution.

Accounting software in the past was built for large enterprises, but now small businesses can benefit from having their finances laid out in the software, which makes it easy to monitor cash flow and monitor profit and loss. Software such as QuickBooks works for freelancers and allows them to track self-employed income and VAT.

Accounting and financial systems will be able to provide real access to your finances information, while reducing the overhead cost of working with a dedicated accounting firm or staff member. This is more cost effective, and most times system updates are included in the initial price, ensuring you continually get the most up-to-date software for your accounting needs.

Enterprise software provider Sage created its accountancy offering Sage One specifically for small businesses, which offers help with invoicing, cashflow, and payroll, with a set monthly fee. Similarly, 3 Wise Bears offers cloud accounting software, minimising the need for teams to work from the same location, a big advantage for remote working small businesses.

Email Software is Still a Powerful Marketing Tool

Emails remain a great source of marketing for small businesses. Econsultancy’s 2016 Email Marketing Census found that almost 75 per cent of 614 company respondents rated it as good or excellent for ROI. This was the highest proportion of any channel cited, including SEO, paid search, and social media.

However, when Constant Contact polled 1,200 small business owners, 49 per cent admitted to not using email marketing data to help with campaigns, because they didn’t know where to begin, and a further 40 per cent said they didn’t have the time to analyse the data.

Data that can and should be analysed by emails include opens, bounce rates, click-through rate, did not opens, spam reports, and unsubscribes. Looking through this data after each email campaign will give you an idea of what kind of content your target market wants, and what they respond and react positively to. This can then help you plan and send out future email blasts to get the highest ROI.

Softwares dedicated to sending emails to a client list, such as MailChimp, do all the hard work for clients, and can organise and display all the relevant data after each email blast is sent out. This software also features email templates, to make it easier for clients to create their emails to be sent out. It also gives the opportunity to group similar clients together in one email blast, to send targeted or specific emails.

Using technology in a small business can only be beneficial, however it’s important to start small and only pay for what you can afford to, before scaling up the packages and systems as your business grows.

Read more about improving your productivity at TechCo

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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